During the day, Cindy McBride works in a dental office, but off hours, she is the Diamondbacks’ biggest fan.
McBride has hand-made flags for almost every Diamondbacks player and pom-pom routines for various moments in the games. She waves the banners enthusiastically as each player steps up to bat, dances between innings and yells encouragingly to the team.
“We watch her [McBride] from here and she gets us all excited,” said Marcia, a worker at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix. “She’s a great person.”
McBride has been a fixture at every Diamondbacks game since 2002. She lugs her bundle of flags up to the 300-level seats before every game, greeting workers and friends along the way.
Around row 320, McBride unpacks her bags and lays out the contents according the day’s batting order. Sometimes she even dresses up as a disco duck on disco night or an American Indian when the team plays the Braves.
“This is why I’m always the last to leave the stadium,” McBride said with a laugh, pointing to her pile of gear.
Her 62 years and occasional hip difficulties don’t stop her from dancing across the aisle and rooting for the players.
“Even during the 111 game loss in 2004, I was up there cheering for them in spite of everything,” she said.
McBride crafted the flags to fit each player’s personality: Stephen Drew’s flag emulates the ten commandments since he is Christian; Chris Young’s is a half circle since he covers so much area as a center fielder; Felipe Lopez’s flag shows how he is “just hot.” And when the players leave the team, they can take their flag with them.
“I don’t just sit and start throwing stuff together,” McBride said. “I envision them like the player.”
She has met most of the players and knows much of the Chase Field staff by name. McBride makes a point to talk to those she knows are going through a hard time, and often offers life advice to fans that chat with her. They can even help her wield the flags, but only if they are very careful and say please.
Many people think the team pays for the flags, McBride said, but she pays for the material and season tickets herself. When the Diamondbacks changed their colors, the team offered to pay for new fabric. But McBride declined, wanting to ensure the design power remained in her hands. She once even had an extra part-time job that helped pay for the flag supplies.
“They are made for a reason,” McBride said. “It’s not a toy. I have to take care of these and I wave them hard.”
Images by Paul Valach